cousins, horses, and puppies, oh my!

On our way home from our long weekend of celebrating my mom’s birthday and meeting our newest nephew, we made plans to stop and visit with Michael’s cousin, Nicole! She’s been inviting us to come up to their place ever since they moved back to Virginia, so I was glad to finally make it happen!

They live out in the country, and her husband Brian works with the horses there. We arrived in the early evening, just around golden hour.  Between the animals, the middle-of-nowhere feel, and the sunset, this was basically a little slice of heaven for me. (Can you find Scout?)They had several horses, and I was so excited to meet them. This one, named Dublin, was my favorite! Such a sweetie. Kaelyn was the most smitten with the horses. She could not stop stroking their noses and talking to them. I loved seeing her fascination and joy. There’s just something about a horse barn… ok, everything about a horse barn… that makes me feel so much peace, calm, and happiness: the smell of hay and sweaty horses, the soft sounds they make as they move in their stalls, and the sweetness of a horse pressing his giant head up against your side, waiting for you to rub his nose or scratch his ears. Horses have a profound effect on me that nothing else seems to, which is why I often miss my days of working at the barn and riding so very much.Nicole also has a few chickens (and the coolest chicken coop I’ve seen), so the girls loved watching them, too. Kaelyn even helped find an egg! I promise, she was much more excited than she looks here.They also had a litter of hunting dog puppies for us to visit with. The girls were so excited (and these babies looked so little compared to Scout)!Brian grilled up some chicken and corn on the cob, and we enjoyed dinner outside together. Nicole brought out ice cream for dessert (a Teerlink family tradition for Sunday nights!), and I believe this was Kaya’s first time ever having it in a cone. It was a hit! Kaelyn’s first cone! Michael, with his ice-cream-sandwich-shoved-into-a-cone-topped-with-an-extra-scoop dessert, covering up his eye to be funny, because for the first time since I met him almost nine years ago, he had an allergic reaction to something! His eye was completely swollen and red. He was fine, but it was a little concerning to me just because he’d never had anything like this before.Being silly (with that swollen eye)!It was sad to leave, but we still had a few hours of driving left to get home. There’s nothing like having fun with your cousins (and second cousins)!

meeting baby bryce

About a month ago, we visited Jeff and Lelia, which meant that we got to meet baby Bryce for the very first time! I’d been looking forward to it so much that I was counting down the weeks until this very day. My girls were equally excited to see their newest cousin! It brought me so much joy to see Lelia as a mommy. Bryce is one lucky little guy! I love that we could take a picture of us together, each with a baby in our arms. Kaelyn just couldn’t believe it when we asked her if she wanted to hold two babies! This right here was pretty much heaven for her. She seemed to be extra connected to Bryce, too. He just had a sense of calmness around her.

Two days later, we were able to attend his baby blessing!
So many family members were there, but I didn’t get a photo of the entire group. Here’s our four-generation shot, though!
We were so glad to see Grandpa Teerlink! Grandma loves Nella… …and Grandpa loves being completely silly! After the blessing and pictures, we enjoyed some refreshments (Lelia’s Andes mint cookies… mmmm)! I also got to hold Bryce one more time, and he took a little nap on me. I already miss when Nella would curl up on me like this. Why are these newborn days so fleeting? It’s safe to say, I’m smitten with my little nephew. I’m so glad we were able to be at his blessing and enjoy some time with family.

grandma debbie’s 60th birthday

My mom’s 60th birthday was in July, so we took a long weekend and headed to my parents’ home for some quality family fun. It’s been a long time since we’ve had then entire family (both of my aunts, Karl, and me) all together, so this was something really special.

Kaya kicked off the weekend by coloring with Grandma! That’s something I remember her doing with me when I was little, so it’s fun to see it continuing on with the next generation.Of course, there were Dunkin’ Donuts, courtesy of Karl! I think these will always be my favorites, despite the amazing local donut shop we have here in town.We also got to meet my parents’ new puppy (I know, he doesn’t look like much of a puppy, right?) for the first time! His name is Buddy, and he’s part pit bull, just like Scout! The only difference is that he is stronger than an ox (I’m not even exaggerating here)! Scout didn’t like being pummeled by his overzealous attempt to play with her, so they didn’t really get to be friends.
But yeah… I pretty much fell head over paws for this puppy. How could you resist those eyes? I think my Dad is pretty smitten with him, too.We had some naps on Daddy… (and a change of clothes for Kaelyn, after she tripped and landed in Buddy’s water bowl!)……and then the whole crew went to an early dinner at Cracker Barrel, which is one of my Mom and Dad’s favorite places.Clockwise: Auntie Joyce and her friend, Melissa; Karl and Kaitlyn; hopefully you know who those people are; and Auntie Carol and Alan!
Princess Nella sat in her throne with her foot upon the table for the entire meal. She also cast a spell on everyone with that sweet little smile of hers.We all headed back to the house for some cake and gifts! My dad had an Oreo cookies and creme cake for his birthday party, and everyone loved it, so of course, we had to repeat it!
It’s not a birthday party with my family unless there’s a big pile of gifts!I found this little decorative watering can at Goodwill and just knew my mom would love it!It turned out that my dad hadn’t finished his gift shopping for my mom, so the day before the party, he took me out with him to get some ideas. We went to five different places without having much luck.

However, we did find a very heavy lawn decoration in the shape of a chicken, and we kept joking around that the “concrete chicken” was our fallback gift. Seriously, I think that thing weighs more than Kaelyn.

My dad actually ended up going back and getting it, and as it turns out, my mom loves her Concrete Chicken. I think I like the joke about the gift even more than the gift itself.I also helped him choose a new bird feeder for her, shaped like a butterfly!
But Karl and Kaitlyn’s gift had to be the best of all…

An iPhone! My mom had been managing with a smartphone that had almost no space to install anything or even be used properly… so now she can actually talk to us and see all the pictures we send. She was so surprised! As you can see in the video, I persuaded Karl to wrap it in a box, and then put that box in another box, wrap it, and so on. It was so much fun.They even made a case for her that had all the kids’ pictures on the back!And, of course, there was a whole lot of baby cuddling on this trip. Auntie Joyce always loves my babies.Apparently, Nella loves pinching her Great-Auntie Joyce’s cheeks. Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around?I was so happy to see these two… it’s been way too long!Grandpa Peter was obviously smitten with “Pumpkin” (as he calls her)!
My mom said this truly was the best birthday ever. I’m so glad we got to celebrate it all together!

five favorites (07/31)

I might be a couple days late, but I had to find some way to get my “five” from last week in!

ONE. We’ve been spending a lot of time out in the hammock. How could we resist, with these nearly chilly mornings and evenings? We’ve been doing school out there after breakfast, and cuddling up after dinnertime. Nella loves hiding out in there… …and sometimes has a little too much fun! I love how everything is so exciting to her.

TWO. Falling temperatures won’t stop these kids from playing with the water table (and getting completely soaked)! Kaya is suddenly starting to seem a little tall for it, but that’s not stopping her from making up stories about rubber duck families and “baking” pretend bread (made from water, obviously)!Kaelyn has a lot of fun splashing!

THREE. Speaking of homemade bread, I tried another new recipe (after months of not making any), and can finally say that I think I’ve found the one. It’s 100% whole wheat, super easy, and only has one rise. Does it get any better than that? Plus, the loaves are basically gorgeous. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it, too!

FOUR. I’ve been waiting to get these early-reader BOB books from the library, and finally, it’s our turn! Kaya has been so excited to read whole books all on her own. As soon as we arrived home from the library, she sat right down and started reading to Kaelyn.

FIVE. Scout’s had a little bit of a rough week, due to an unexpected vet visit. We had noticed that her eyes looked a little different than usual, and my vet friend Katie suggested that we take her in. Thankfully, her eye pressures were fine, but she does have some inflammation. She’s getting ointment and eye drops 4-5 times a day, and we’re finally seeing seeing some improvement. Going to the vet wears a puppy out! When Michael came home with eye drops for the dog, I almost laughed because I wasn’t sure how on earth we were going to get her to sit still long enough to put them in. After a week, I’m surprised to say that we’re practically pros at administering eye drops. She sits still and waits for her treat the whole time! I’m glad to see my furry baby looking a little more like herself again.

Happy Monday!

fourth of july (2017)

Three weeks later… and I’m finally writing about our Independence Day! Whoops. We had an amazing four-day weekend and truly enjoyed filling our time up with family, friends, and good food.

To start off the holiday, we needed some matching patriotic outfits, of course. Apparently, this is the face Nella makes when she’s very excited about something!
Kaelyn is always the first one who wants to be done having her picture taken. This was too classic to leave out. This girl and her dog… I absolutely love them together.Michael worked on painting our front door and priming our kitchen early in the day. There’s always a project to be done around here, and I’m glad he’s so willing to do it. In the process, we discovered that our previously blue door had apparently been red at some point. (If you remember our basement, it’s pretty obvious that one of the previous homeowners loved red!)
This was Nella’s “last first” holiday, so there had to be some pictures of just her in her patriotic garb. What’s cuter than a baby in holday-themed apparel? Answer: Nothing. That’s what. One of the families we know at church had a huge, open-invitation, cookout at their home- I think nearly half the ward (congregation) showed up that evening. See that ripped up hot dog bun? That’s what happens when you try to fill up your plate while also holding a baby who likes to grab everything! Really though, any meal that includes mac ‘n cheese is an automatic success. I don’t know how many of these cute smiley-faced cookies my girls ate…… and Nella was still really excited about everything! The kids all got to play an egg-toss game, but it started to pour down rain right in the middle of it all. It’s a tradition of ours to go to the town firework show, but we really didn’t want to sit out in the rain, so we stayed at the barbecue a little longer. They shot off some small fireworks, and we had sparklers for the kids.

Kaelyn was afraid and wanted nothing to do with the sparklers, but we managed to convince Kaya that they’d be fun, and she couldn’t get enough of them after she started.
We stayed out a lot later than we normally do (since we became parents, anyway), and I think this is how we all felt the next morning!

kaelyn’s first haircut

Kaelyn had her first-ever haircut! She saw Kaya get a little trim one Sunday morning, but wasn’t ready to do so herself quite yet. A few days later, she came to me and said, “My hair getting loooong… Me want a haircut, mama!”

She sat very still, and was even a good sport for some photos. I didn’t want to cut too much off, but it was actually quite uneven to begin with, so I did end up trimming it quite a bit. I let her hold some of the pieces that were cut, and she seemed to think that was pretty crazy and cool.

Before…
And after! Beautiful inside and out. Still damp, but you get the idea. I love how her hair is really developing some natural wave!And of course, in true Kaelyn fashion, we needed one crazy face at the end! She was so happy and told me, “My hair super soft!”

five on friday (7/21)

This week has felt jam-packed (in the best way possible), so I feel like this is the longest Five on Friday I’ve written in a while! We’re having fun and getting all we can out of summertime, which makes my heart so full.

ONE. The weather is finally feeling like summertime should… HOT! We’ve had plenty of fun outside! We’ve all been enjoying the hammock, although the kids don’t quite understand that it’s meant for resting and relaxing, and not swinging as fast as you can in it. Ha! We had a “picnic” with friends, Aaliyah and Talyah! I love how making kids this age happy is as easy as putting a blanket out on the deck and eating outside.  Scout loves being out on the deck too!

TWO. We’ve found several little friends outside this week. This woolly bear caterpillar was walking across our driveway one evening, and Kaya was eager to pet it and hold it in her hand. She insisted on keeping it, so we made a little house out of an empty milk carton, and Kaya picked some leaves and flowers for it to eat.

Kaya declared it a girl, and named her “Caterpillary”, with a nickname of “Fuzzy” and a last name of “Wuzzy”. Caterpillary “Fuzzy” Wuzzy. We’ve had a lot of fun learning all about this type of caterpillar, and it’s provided several hours of entertainment for Kaya already.

We (or should I say, Scout) also found this little baby bird out in the yard this morning. It looked like a Mockingbird fledgling, most likely working on learning to fly. The girls were so excited to say hello to this little guy, but we made it a quick visit so we wouldn’t disturb it or its mama bird too much.

THREE. When Kaya styles your hair, you might end up with four bows in it all at once… … but still look as cute as ever!

All three of these ladies together… breaking my heart with a cuteness overload! Kaelyn’s working on her “smolder” face, obviously (and she hasn’t even seen Tangled yet)!

FOUR. Nella’s been having some form of dinner every night this week. We tried apple-prune puree, as well as strawberry Greek yogurt. The latter has been her favorite so far!

FIVE. Last, but definitely not least, I guess we’ve “officially” started our homeschool kindergarten curriculum! We’ve been nonchalantly doing schoolwork through the summer, but this week was sort of my test run to see how well we could stick to a more structured schedule.

Kaya is absolutely loving her new math book, and if she keeps working at the pace she’s going, we might be done with kindergarten math by Thanksgiving. I love that we can go quickly over what she already knows, and spend greater time on units she needs more practice in. Kaelyn has been using some preschool books from the dollar store, and is just as eager to learn! I’ll probably be writing more about our homeschooling adventures, but for today, I’m just excited to say we’ve started!

Happy weekend!

Linking up here, here, and here today!

a minnie mouse birthday party (kaelyn’s 3rd birthday!)

Kaelyn had talked about her upcoming birthday for weeks, if not months, before the big day actually arrived. She had decided on a unicorn-themed party long ago, but somehow ended up on the fence between that and a Minnie Mouse party. A couple weeks before the party, she finally landed on Minnie Mouse, and there was no turning back. She has always had a love for Minnie, although I’m not quite sure where it came from, since she doesn’t watch her show, and we don’t have any books with her in them, either.

The day before her party, we shopped for cake-baking supplies and her balloons! She was beaming when we picked these up at the dollar store!

I based the cake off of this one, and followed that same bow tutorial as well. I used homemade fondant for the bow, polka dots, and the shape of the ears (which I then covered in melted chocolate), but the frosting is all buttercream. I was actually really happy with how smooth-looking this turned out. Kaelyn was giddy when she saw her cake, and gave me so many cute smiles (which is a big deal, because she usually doesn’t like to be photographed)!
I love this beautiful, amazing, funny little girl. Celebrating her was the best. She actually got to blow out the candles twice, because for some reason, my camera wasn’t ready the first time.

Kaelyn had requested that the inside of the cake be “sprinkles”, so I made this funfetti recipe. It was delicious, but I think she was too excited for presents and didn’t actually eat any of it! She did, however, enjoy eating Minnie Mouse’s ear! Grandma Debbie was the only one who could make it to the party, but she brought lots of surprises for the birthday girl. Kaelyn was very happy to see everything wrapped in Minnie paper! She received a remote-controlled Minnie car, but it actually didn’t work, so we exchanged it for the airplane equivalent at Target. It’s one of her favorite toys now!Have you ever seen a kid so excited about socks and shirts? (Only if they’re Minnie-themed, I guess!) Undies sent by Auntie Lelia, Uncle Jeff and baby Bryce! Her only three gifts that weren’t related to Minnie Mouse- Paw Patrol puppies… … a water coloring book… …and donut chalk from Uncle Karl and Kaitlyn! We ended the festivities with her favorite food- pizza! She was so tired, but so very happy.

We love you, Kaelyn Grace! Happy 3rd Birthday!

five on friday (07/14)

ONE. We had an extra-fun week, because my friend Amanda and her two boys, Liam and Ryan, came to stay with us for a couple of days! We’ve known them for several years, but they moved away, and the last time we visited with them was nearly 3 years ago!We got some of our original play group back together for some fun, but we definitely missed having Katherine and Brittany there, too. Bianca invited us over for lunch on Thursday afternoon, and we enjoyed watching our kids play. In total, we’ve added three new little people to this group since the last time we were together.Kaya and Liam didn’t remember each other, even though they practically met at birth. They were fast friends though, and played together constantly once Kaya didn’t feel so shy (even though my girls couldn’t seem to remember the boys’ names, and kept calling them “The Big One” and “The Little One” instead of Liam and Ryan)! We sure were sad to see them leave!

TWO. This is how the girls come down to breakfast lately… It’s a good thing we only have three kids, because Michael is out of arms!

THREE. Nella started computer programming this week! 😉 Everyone wants to be just like Daddy.

FOUR. When you take out your long-forgotten selfie stick, and the little girl who most dislikes being photographed strikes the cutest pose next to you… I love this sweet, pigtail-haired three-year-old!

Sweet, sweet girls. I love how they cuddle up to me for a picture.FIVE. The best entertainment for Nella is always, without fail, her sisters! Kaya was rolling across the floor over to Nella, just to make her laugh. She loved it and could have done it all day long. I love watching them play together.

Happy Friday!

father’s day 2017

This already feels like forever ago, but we had a sweet, simple Father’s Day celebration for our one and only best guy. Michael is the most amazing Daddy. His girls are his whole world, and I’m so grateful for his love, patience, and guidance when it comes to raising our daughters.

Each of the girls surprised him with one of his favorite candies…
…and subsequently begged him to share everything with them!Kaya made him a custom pipecleaner-pony-bead bracelet. He’s actually worn it every day for the past two weeks, and it’s surprisingly still holding up!I think the pictures just get crazier as this post goes on…
We ended up having our church’s stake conference on Father’s Day, which made our Sunday schedule a little different than usual. The primary kids sang “I’m So Glad When Daddy Comes Home” the previous week, and at the end of church, all the dads enjoyed some pie.

Of course, we still wanted to make him a special treat on the real holiday. We mixed up some homemade brownies. Kaelyn is always the first to jump up and help me bake!
If you can’t tell, the girls got completely sugar high on the brownie batter. Needless to say, they didn’t eat any actual brownies.

Kaya came home with one of those “my dad” surveys from primary, too. Here were her answers:

My Dad is… 29 years old.
My Dad’s favorite thing to do is… tickle me.
My Dad’s job is… helping me take a bath.
My Dad’s favorite food is… pizza.
My favorite thing to do with my Dad is… play hide and seek.
My Dad is really good at… volleyball.
My Dad makes me laugh when he… tickles me.
I am so happy when me and my Dad… hug each other.

Happy Father’s Day, buddy! We sure are lucky to have you.